Modeled on Posi-Tone label owner Marc Free’s concept of paying tribute to Eric Dolphy’s now classic Out to Lunch album by joining forward-thinking jazz musicians with rigorous compositions, Out to Dinner’s second album, Play On, is a great success. Even if the compositions weren’t striking, which they are, this particular assemblage of players makes music that is nothing less than serendipitous, engrossing, gobsmacking. Some in the band’s lineup are known, others less so. But kinetic interplay, a high level of musicianship, a sense of unity, and that certain unquantifiable ingredient that makes for a rare, great jazz recording, are all in attendance.
The Out to Dinner front line consists of vibraphonist Behn Gillece, trumpeter Giveton Gelin, alto saxophonist Patrick Cornelius, and tenor saxophonist Nicole Glover, supported by bassist Boris Kozlov and drummer Donald Edwards, both established jazz veterans. All but Cornelius contribute tunes; covers of Stevie Wonder’s “Visions” and Lee Morgan’s “Short Count” are also included. The group performs 13 songs that roll out like a well-organized live set, and all players solo. It’s an ensemble performance full of insight, hard blowing, and that rare buzz you get when musicians and listeners lock in a familial embrace of jazz knowing.
One can devour Play On song by song, bit by bit, focusing on every rhythm, chord, and melody. Or, as I did, just let the album wash over you: the fresh compositions, the excellent solos, the smart arrangements making time fly. Then it’s time to flip the disc for a repeat session. Highly recommended.